have a winning year
By CONNIE LEINBACH
Even though Ocracoke is small doesn’t mean it
That strength was shown this year in its youth basketball, which came
“a million miles,” notes school Principal Dr. Walt Padgett.
That’s because this year the teams had their best year yet.
In February, the girls’ middle school basketball team, coached by Noel
Goodwin, completed an undefeated season (9-0), a first in Ocracoke
“Any time a team goes undefeated is a milestone,” Padgett says.
And the varsity boys won two games, finishing with a 2-12 season.
Winning those two games also was a milestone considering the only other
game they had won in three years in the Tideland Conference was against
a school that is no longer in the conference.
Both girls’ and boys’ varsity teams beat Mattamuskeet High School this
year, something that had never happened before.
The middle school boys’ team was 6-3 and the girls’ varsity team was
Nevertheless, these are all admirable records, considering that
Ocracoke teams have far fewer students from which to draw, which means
that sometimes they have to put freshmen on the varsity teams—something
that’s not usually done in high school sports.
But a lot on Ocracoke is different from the rest of the world.
So, what is it about the Ocracoke teams that made a difference this
Maybe it feeling like they were now real teams when they unveiled new
school colors --royal blue and silver -- at last fall’s “Meet the
Dolphins” night. Prior to that, Ocracoke had the Mattamuskeet
High colors of black and gold.
Was it the tenacity to put in long days?
“When you play sports here, you sacrifice,” Padgett says.
That sacrifice would be time doing other things, since Ocracoke kids do
the most traveling to play other teams.
“Our shortest trip is two hours to play the Hatteras Hurricanes,”
Padgett says. “There’ve been a couple of times when we had to call the
dock at Hatteras and get them to hold the ferry. And the
people are very good about it.”
“We have a 12-hour day for basketball and they still have to do their
schoolwork,” notes Adam Burleson, physical education teacher and
athletic director, who coaches the girls’ varsity. “We have
strict academic standards than other schools, and we’re fortunate our
kids can handle it.”
Maybe was it good coaching?
“Our four coaches really emphasize teamwork,” Padgett says. “You can
get so much done when not one kid but all the kids get the
credit. Our coaches did the right thing and brought them
slowly but kept their feet to the fire.”
Amazingly, this was Goodwin’s second year coaching anything.
In addition to Goodwin and Burleson, Jason Wells coached the middle
school boys and David Allewalt coached the varsity boys. Scot McNally
assists both varsity teams.
Even the non-athletes could feel like they were part of the success.
“Just about everyone in the seventh through 12th grades has a job
helping the teams, be it fetching water, filming the action, or keeping
statistics,” Padgett says.
Or was it that after five years since the basketball program began, the
kids had the experience needed to best some of these other teams?
“Community people have been teaching them fundamentals, and we have
some real athletes,” Padgett says. “The rest of the kids just
hustle. They play hard from the time the ball is tipped to
Padgett isn’t worried that three seniors from the boys’ and girls’
varsity teams are graduating this year.
“We have some nice talent coming up,” he says, noting that several
talented fourth-graders are in the program.
Could it have been the community support -- the local radio station
WOVV 90.1 announcing every home game on air and several local
businesses broadcasting them?
Or was it that the Ocracoke gym is about 75 percent of the size of
regulation basketball courts?
“We have to learn the game in tight quarters,” notes Goodwin.
“Then when we go to other gyms, we can stretch out and we do
well. When other teams come here they have difficulty
So, (a smaller gym is) definitely to our advantage,” she said.
That will change next year, however, when the new, full-sized gym is
completed sometime this summer. The current gym is closed
the new one is built.
Padgett and Burleson hope all the hard work by the kids will result in
the middle school teams getting into the conference this coming year.
Currently, the two varsity teams are in the Tideland Conference and the
two middle school teams (girls and boys in grades 7 and 8) are
independent, which enables other teams to forfeit games sometimes if
they have to travel to Ocracoke.
But basketball wasn’t the only sport the kids excelled in.
The cross-country boys’ team went to state meet this year for the first
time. Both the boys’ and girls’ cross-country teams won
The new facility won’t just be a boon for the basketball program.
Padgett will add volleyball to the sports offering.
In addition, it was announced at the March meeting of the
Ocracoke Civic and Business Association that a Little League co-ed
baseball team for ages 10 to 12 will be formed this year and
in the Cal Ripkin League out of Hatteras.
The team will play 10 evening games from April to June, with opening
day Saturday, April 12, in Buxton. This, too, may evolve into
another sport for the Ocracoke School.
When it all comes down to it, though, it was one thing that made this
season’s sports teams great, says Goodwin -- “It was the kids.”